After serving as an Associate Chair, Andrea Kayne Kaufman became Chair in July 2009 of the newly created Leadership, Language, & Curriculum Department. To her role as Chair, she has brought her enthusiasm and know-how for integrating electronic technology and teaching. The department initiated its online Type 75 program last fall, and will start up two new online Master’s programs this Autumn. Recently, Andrea took some time to answer a few questions about her use of electronic technology and its place in her teaching and in her department.
Chris Worthman: What are some of the ways you are using electronic technology in your face-to-face classrooms?
Andrea Kayne Kaufman: I use electronic technology both as a teaching resource and as a resource students can draw on in their learning. For example, I direct students to YouTube videos related to course content, as well as other videos relevant to my courses. Students also do legal research using Internet databases such as Lexis. I also post my narrated PowerPoints online. And of course, my students use Discussion Board and create their own websites as part of my coursework.
Worthman: How does this technology support your teaching and students’ learning?
Kaufman: My students have grown up in a technological age so it is very familiar to them, and they enjoy using technology. I, however, need to model technology skills that are necessary for my students’ lives as educational administrators. They need to know how to use technology to research, understand, and communicate issues and topics related to their professions. As for my classrooms, besides helping students find ways to use technology successfully in their jobs, I believe my use of multi-media helps reinforce difficult concepts and appeals to different learning styles and modalities. Seeing and hearing, rather than only reading, about educational problems, harms, and legal issues, create more of a recognition of the importance of preventing and mitigating these problems, harms, and issues.
Worthman: Having taught online courses for a couple years, what has surprised you most about teaching online?
Kaufman: I was very surprised at how rigorous the online courses are. Developing an online course is not a matter of putting your face-to-face course online. It is not video-taping lectures, or providing a correspondence course, or having students work through a workbook. With the amazing infrastructure and training that has been development by the University and the SoE, I have access to many resources, such as podcasting, VoiceThread, Viddler, interactive assessments, and more, that help me make my courses rigorous and interactive. In some ways, students in my online courses get more attention that they do in my face-to-face courses.
I am also surprised at how I have brought Quality Matters into my face-to-face teaching. Quality Matters is the framework that ensures online and hybrid courses are of high quality. Although I was awarded Excellence in Teaching and was nominated a number of times prior to teaching online, I think online teaching has greatly enhanced my face-to-face teaching, forcing me to think about things I was not thinking about before.
And last, I am surprised at how successful and in demand our online courses are. Since we started offering online courses, we have had to open additional sections nearly every quarter.
Worthman: What have been some of the challenges teaching online?
Kaufman: I have learned the hard way that it is very important to honor the cap of online courses at 25. I thought because I was able to handle successfully 30 students in my face-to-face courses, I could accommodate that many in my online courses. I didn’t want to say no to students who were enthusiastic about taking an online course. Having 30 students, however, nearly killed me. The students require more attention online. Twenty-five appears to be a manageable number for me. Also, Jeanne Kim has helped me to develop strategies such as reasonable expectations for response time and to integrate resources like discussion boards, WIMBA, which allow me to be more efficient.
I also learned the hard way that, unlike face-to-face courses, online courses need to be developed completely before the quarter in which they are taught. Of course, there is room to modify and add new content, but unlike face-to-face, online courses require continuous ongoing delivery, and prepping while delivering content is just too much.
And as a department chair, it has been difficult for me to handle the scheduling and flow of online courses. Student interest has exceeded our ability to provide courses. However, we are working with Alexa Walsh, Andre Lewis, and Tonishea Jackson to manage the flow and expectations of online course offerings.
Worthman: Thinking about your own professional development, what has the integration of technology—whether that be in f2f classes or online—meant to you?
Kaufman: I have overcome my stereotypes and fears about online learning. As a teacher, I think differently about learning and have developed new ways of teaching. As an administrator, I have helped my program and department grow, and technology has allowed me to be more entrepreneurial.
Worthman: Your department has the online Type 75 certification and will be starting up two new online programs in the fall, with more programs in the works. Why do think there is such great interest in online programming?
Kaufman: As a said earlier, students are living in the electronic age, and it is comfortable and familiar to them. Online courses are attractive to multiple learning styles and modalities. And of course, for our students, who are in advanced programs, live far away from campus, work fulltime and have families, online courses are ideal for them.
Worthman: What are your electronic technology goals for your department?
Kaufman: We are launching a fully online Master’s in Educational Leadership Program to a national and international audience. With the new ISBE requirement that 51% of a program’s coursework needs to be face-to-face, we are working with Alexa to design a curriculum for our students who are working fulltime so they can take up to 49% of their courses online during the academic year and then 51% during the summer in face-to-face alternative formats like intensive all-day sessions or Saturday sessions. We also are working with Alexa to create a streamlined advising system for our online program students. We also would love to create an online Reading Teacher endorsement.
Worthman: Regarding electronic technology, where would you like to see the SoE in five years?
Kaufman: With the ever-changing world of electronic technology, I encourage all faculty to try to integrate at least one new technology into their courses each quarter. With that, I can guarantee that in five years all course, whether online, hybrid, or face-to-face, will be greatly enhanced.